I recently wrote an article, How I Used GPS to Track My Kids, where I explained how I had used my luggage tracker device to track my kids location when I was in a pickle. I’ve had a few people ask me, ‘Which tracker was that?’…. Well, it was the TILE App tracker!
The TILE App tracker was the first type of tracking device I had ever used, and it started me down this path, so I felt it would be appropriate to dedicate a few words to one of my favorite little gadgets, and explain why it is the luggage tracker device of my choice. However, I should mention before I go any further, that Tile do not recommend using their devices to track Children or Pets – it was designed to track the location of items, or objects, so that is how we will proceed!
What is Tile and the Tile App?
Tile is a personal tracking device that uses Bluetooth technology. Is it designed to be used with pretty much anything you feel like attaching it to, a true multi-purpose tracking device. I initially bought mine to track my luggage (I had lost some luggage on a holiday abroad once, and I wasn’t ever going to have that happen again – ohhhhh the stress!), but now I have quite a few, on keys, laptops, my handbag, the kids sports bags and our bikes, and obviously my luggage when traveling. I interchange them all the time, depending on what I am doing.
- A unit that you can attach to whatever it is that you want to keep track of, much like a keyring or a key chain. Although they now come in varying sizes, the TILE Sport version that I use measures in at around 40mm x 40mm x 5mm, like a small, ehm, tile…
- The second part involves an App (downloadable from Google Play Store or Apples’ App Store). The basic premise, is that you attach your tile to your luggage, or whatever it is you want to track, then when you need to locate that item, you open up the TILE app on your phone, press a button, and your Tile device will ring loudly, allowing you to follow the sound to its location.
- The third aspect of the TILE tracker, is the TILE community, which I will go into further detail below.
Isn’t Bluetooth Range Pretty Limited though?
Yes! It is! The Tile Sport that I use, has a range of up to 200ft, although from personal experience, in direct line of sight this can easily exceed 200 feet. When trying to track through walls and other objects, it probably does fall to within that 200 feet claim, but outside with no interference the range is much, much further.
My son left his football kit at the park once, and we realized as we were walking home across the park. We were easily 300 feet away, maybe more, but the Tile App had no problem picking up a strong signal – there were just a few trees and bushes between us and the changing rooms.
What if My Tile Tracker is Out of Range?
This is where Tiles’ unique community comes into play. If you lose something and it is no longer within range, the first thing the App will show is a location on a map, where the item was the last time you received a signal. That’s’s a start. You know straight away if you left your keys in the coffee shop, or laundromat or at the market, which is a great start to recovering your item – despite how far away you are when checking.
Secondly, you can set your device to “Notify When Found”, which opens the signal of your device up to in excess of 2 million members of the TILE community. When another TILE user comes in range of your item, you receive an alert, and are shown on a map where your item is! It’s brilliant! The other tile user has no idea they just located your item for you, unless you choose to send them a thank you message. You are the only one who can see where your lost item is.
Flipping that around, every time you come in range of another TILE users tile, you receive that signal and alert them as to the location of THEIR lost item, if they have the “Notify When Found” feature selected.
When this happens, you do not see anything in your app or have any knowledge of anyone else’s tile units, it all happens in the background.
What Else Can Tile Do?
When within range, your tile can do a few other fancy things to make life easier for you. It’s not always necessary to view a map to find your lost item.
The Tile unit has a small button on it, that when you double press, will make your phone ring (even when on silent), so you can find your phone when it’s fallen down the back of the sofa.
Open the app and send a signal to your TILE unit (which is attached to your keys, or laptop or whatever it is you are tracking), to make your Tile unit emit a loud customisable audio signal, so you can find your keys, when THEY have fallen down the back of the sofa!
It is possible to attach numerous TILE units to numerous items, assign each one a different name and track all of them via the App, so if both your keys and your phone are down the back of the sofa, use your laptop TILE to send signal to your phone, retrieve your phone, open the App and find your keys!
Back to Luggage Tracking Devices…
As you have seen, the ways in which Tiles can be used are pretty limitless, but we started with luggage tracking, so I’ll explain how I use TILE as a luggage tracker device. There are many types of luggage tracking devices on the market, mainly based on using QR codes – but that’s a story for another day. I like Tiles because I’m pretty tight with my purse strings, and I like value for money. Specific luggage trackers might only be used 3 or 4 of times a year, and fall within the same kind of price range as Tile. I can use my Tiles as luggage trackers, then take them off my luggage when the vacation is over and use them in day to day life.
The obvious reason for using them on luggage, is so that the Tile community can help locate my luggage if it goes missing. There are Tile community members all over the world, and airports are very busy places, so the community will easily receive signal from my luggage and locate it for me. My airline lost 3 of my suitcases flying from London Heathrow to the Canary Islands, a direct flight! I spent countless hours on the phone and sent dozens of angry emails to the airline and the 3rd party companies they in turn, blamed. To cut a long story short, 3 years on, my luggage has not been found and I don’t ever expect it will be.
The other reason I use TILE as a luggage tracker device, is so I can track my luggage as it flies with me. When I board the plane, I check that my suitcases have made it into the hold, when I disembark, I check my luggage has made it off the plane too…. But the very best part is at Baggage Claim. If you are anything like me, this part of a voyage is the most frustrating. Watching hundreds of suitcases go round and round the carousel, being pushed by baggage trolleys and shoved by weary travelers as everyone tries to make it to ‘front row’ is a nightmare. Now, I just hang back and wait for my luggage signal to appear in my App, then casually go and collect it from the carousel.
My Tiles aren’t going to stop the airlines losing my luggage, but they make my traveling a little more stress free and enjoyable, and if my suitcases do go walkabout again, I have full confidence in the Tile Community’s ability to find them!
Final Words on my Tile Tracking Device
Tiles are not rechargeable, approximately a year after shipping they will die. At 11 months, Tile will invite you to ‘reTile’ – you purchase a replacement Tile at a discounted rate and send your old Tile back to Tile for recycling. Easy. No lost cables or charge units and no dealing with fiddly little screws
Other luggage tracking devices rely primarily on airport staff or airline employees to scan your luggage tag, and then physically contact you to tell you they have it. I’m sorry, but having been here, I’d rather put my trust in the Tile community.
I love my Tile Sport units, because they are so versatile. Sometimes specific tasks need specific jobs, but in the case of Tile, it’s the fact that I can use them for pretty much anything that makes them such valuable little gadgets to me. They’re tough, and waterproof and easy to attach to anything. My suitcases and I wouldn’t leave home without them!
… neither would my handbag, keys, laptop, rucksack, pushbike, sports kit, gym kit, favorite teddy, briefcase, camera… etc etc etc……